Writing, Mothers, and Memories
Sometimes, but not often enough, I sit at the computer and scroll through my writing files. Poems, essays, short stories–essays, poems, short stories…nothing organized. It’s all just randomly saved on my little hot pink zip drive. There are no files for each genre of writing, it’s all just there, piled one on top of another, not sorted in any fashion, like my husbands laundry. And being the random person that I am, most everything is in some stage of development, but nothing much is finished except some poems, which I occasionally go in and change to try to make better in the hopes that someone will actually want one for their literary journal. But they never do. Sometimes I change them some more and usually make them worse and they lose all the immediacy of the original thought and they end up sounding like a hallmark card, which may actually be a good market for my poems– hmmm. I’m seriously considering lowering my standards a little.
From time to time I go through the thing and jump into a piece and start writing or editing. A while back I opened a piece about my Mom, my sister Judy, and me that I wrote in a memoir writing class I took. I saved it for a chapter in that memoir I swear I’m gonna write someday. So I started working on it a little.
It’s kind of an emotional piece since Mom is dead and Judy lives on the other end of the country in New England, where we were raised. It’s a place I left as a young bride without really fully considering the repercussions of that decision. I just knew that Seattle sounded like a cool place and I wanted out of where I was born and that I would surely be able to get a job with the airlines and travel back and forth for visits whenever I wanted. It would be as easy as changing my shoes. Ah yes, the imaginative and unreliable reasoning of youth. And how could I have known that I would fall head over tail in love with the Pacific Northwest and never ever, ever want to leave? Or that the airlines wouldn’t be interested in my Associates degree in Customer Service because I’m only 5′ 2 “?
So I’ve had a long distance relationship with my sister since 1979. It sucks. We were always close as kids. We got along well and didn’t pull each other’s hair and scream and yell at one another the way most of my friends and their sisters did. I don’t remember us ever doing that. We’re the best of friends, but our lives only intersect once every year or two. So I miss her a lot and always have. It sucks.
Anyways the story I was working on happens to be about My Mom’s passing and how Judy and I prepared her body for burial, but that is all I can say in case I do write the memoir I don’t’ want to give it all away now. I worked on this piece of writing for a while, but eventually I found myself sniffling a little and feeling kind of depressed so I stopped in a logical place. Then I got online and started searching for writing contests and found a poetry journal about mothering that wanted poetry concerning motherhood, and I remembered there is a poem about Mom singing, on the zip drive, so I opened it and worked on it and actually made it better for a change. But by then I was seriously missing Mom and Judy and I was thinking about my Dad and pretty much every other dead relative and loved one and every far away family member and I was really feeling lonely and depressed and just plain shitty so I stopped writing and haven’t done much on it since. Wow, you must be thinking it sounds like a pretty depressing memoir. But it’s not really. There’s a fair amount of humor in the stories and the writing. But it’s about a real life and real lives have some shit in them, which is why when you write fiction, which is made up lives, they tell you to throw some shit in there, like conflict, conflict, conflict, resolution. I’m still working on the resolution stuff in my not made up life story. I hope I figure it out before I’m dead and can’t write that memoir anymore.
So tomorrow’s Mother’s Day and it kind of sucks every year now since both my Mom and my husbands Mom are dead and I’m not anybody’s Mother except Cosmo, and he is too short to drive to the store and get me a card and the old man is not the kind of guy to think that his wife would enjoy a Mother’s Day card from the dog, (I would), so it’s just a Sunday for us. A kind of sad Sunday. We generally avoid restaurants and parks and things on Mother’s Day and just stay at home or take a drive.
This Mother’s Day I will sit with my memories and live a little in the past, the way I have for the last fifteen Mother’s Days. I consider myself lucky to have a large store of good memories to leaf through. I have friends who didn’t have that kind of Mother–the kind you want to remember. Some of them have expended a lifetime of energy trying to forget their Mothers. How tragic. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I was one of them. Mother’s Day would suck even worse than it does, I’m sure.
That’s not to say it isn’t hard for me. It is hard to exclude myself from such a celebratory day, not being a Mom and having no Mom here to celebrate with. There will be no picking out the perfect card and gift. No dinner reservations or long distance phone calls to make. No communication at all with the most important woman in my life. A whispered prayer maybe. A quiet tearful thank you. A lot of reflection. A lump in my throat the size of a buttermilk biscuit. Yeesh. Yeah, it’s hard.
Still, I’m one of the lucky ones. My Mom was awesome. She was a mother of six who never excluded any of her children from her love and managed to love each one of us differently, while loving all of us equally. And believe me, we weren’t easy. She was an amazing woman. I’m so grateful she was my Mother.
I hope you have an amazing Mom to celebrate too. Whether she’s here with you or not, may her presence bless your day. And for those of you who don’t, I’m wishing you a little extra sunshine, or the kindness of a stranger, or the love of a special person, or the loyalty of a special critter, to bring you joy today.
Happy Mother’s Day Everybody.